• Princesses Galore!

    Thursday, May 5, we slept in until 7:15…unheard of at our house!  The girls and I got busy beautifying for our special princess meet-and-greet.  The girls got to meet Elsa and Anna in the Animators Palate, a restaurant they had all decked out like Arendale.  Elsa is Halle’s favorite princess, and she was in awe.


    Next, we moved on to the princess meet-and-greet, where the girls struggled with staying in line.  Once it was finally our turn, the girls met Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, the coveted Tiana (for Malia) and Rapunzel (for the third time).  Malia was enthralled with Tiana.  The two of them had a long chat.  Malia told her she likes when she turns into a frog in the movie, and Tiana told her that was very gross and slimy.  Many hugs were shared.  Rapunzel was amazing.  She remembered the girls and told them she was so honored to see them three times.  They laughed, hugged and told stories.





    Today was warm but winnnndddyy.  Halle and I attempted to go on the Aquaduck water slide on the top of the ship.  It was so cold and windy waiting up that high, and a kind couple invited us up to their spot which was covered from the wind.  They told us they were from Florida and live 10 minutes from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium that we are visiting on Saturday.  They told us to drive 10 minutes from there to ‘Honeymoon Island’ for beautiful views away from the hustle and bustle.  We will have to check that out!  We never did get down the slide…


    The kids swam, Kaleb chilled in the Oceaneer’s Club…the place that is loaded with games, shows and video games.  It is fully staffed by Disney.  They have a pretty intense check-in process, and in order to check them out you have to go through a series of steps, including sharing a secret word.  Nick neglected to tell me that the first time I tried to pick Kaleb up.  Sheesh!  I didn’t think we would send the kids in there when I initially read about the cruise.  After all, we want to be together!  For real, we have to drag Kaleb out of there.

    We enjoyed our last delicious dinner together on the ship.  We have had an incredible table host from Croatia.  He made our dinners fun, and we will miss his charm!  He has dreams of moving to Florida or Texas someday, so we will pray for God’s provision in Ivan’s life.

    We ended our night with a show in the Live Disney Theater.  It was called “Believe”, and it was PHENOMENAL.  From the music, to the dancing, pyrotechnics, and message, it was a fabulous way to end the cruise.  To our Doodle Bops, we pray you never stop believing that God has BIG plans for you, He will protect you, He will take care of you and He will ALWAYS be by your side.


    The girls cried for AN HOUR straight when we got back to our rooms.  Fatigued had kicked in, and they did not want this to be over.  I feel it, too.  Gratitude and joy overwhelm me.  May we be able to share and give joy in the future, like it has been given to us this week.

  • Wishes really do come true…

    Tuesday, May 3, we awoke in the beautiful Bahamas.  We ate a delicious breakfast complete with Mickey Mouse pancakes, chocolate chip muffins, donuts, and a few bites of fruit to balance things out.  We disembarked and took a bus to the Atlantis Resort in Nassau.  The resort is MASSIVE.  The area between the towers that resembles a bridge is actually a luxury suite that goes for the tune of $25,000 per night!!  It is called the ‘Michael Jackson Suite’, because he was the first guest to stay there.  It apparently has housed Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, too!





    All around the resort there are animals swimming in ponds – sting rays, turtles, fish…Malia wanted to stop and check out every one, and we almost lost in her a pond a time or two.  Let’s talk about Malia for a second.  Bless our daughter’s heart, but she has some sensory processing issues.  The girl has been so overstimulated, that she is trying everything she can to self-regulate.  She is typically a vestibular seeker, which means we find her hanging upside down and spinning everywhere…watch out for feet in your face!  While she still does cartwheels everywhere we go, without thought about what she is touching on the floor or who may be around her, she has been seeking oral stimulation this trip, as well.  We have caught her licking Mickey confetti she found on the ground, licking rails, licking the ropes that Disney uses to keep people in line, and generally just wagging her tongue from side to side rapidly.  If Malia doesn’t bring something home other than her souvenirs, we will all be shocked.

    Back to the Bahamas…We walked and walked and walked (did I mention we walked?) all the way to Dolphin Cay at the resort.  We had about 50 minutes to kill before our scheduled encounter time, so we sat on the beach, played in the sand and watched other families have their encounters.  So…when we planned this trip…Halle apparently forgot about her strong disdain for sand on her feet.  The struggle is REAL.  She FREAKS out when “soft sand” touches her feet.  Freaks.  Out.  Snot down to her chin, wailing kind of freaking out.  I bought her some crocs before we left, thinking those would do the trick, but noooooo, sand still gets in those.  So, we all took turns carrying her.  And, Kaleb took it upon himself to torture her by sprinkling dry sand on her feet.  Did you know kids still whine and bicker on vacation?? 🙂



    Once that was behind us, we started to get REALLY excited!!  The weather was glorious…hot and sunny!!  Silently, I lifted up prayers of praise and thanksgiving for this moment.  It was so surreal to be in such a beautiful place about to see your sweetheart’s wish come true, all because of the generosity and love of others.  Wow.  Just, wow.

    When it was finally our turn, we donned our wetsuits, listened to the directions and learned our dolphin’s name was Brewer.  He was rescued from Mississippi and has been at Discovery Cay since he was 4 (he’s now 16).  We entered the water, took a few pictures, and up swam Brewer.  Halle was in her glory!  We each got to kiss Brewer and got a kiss in return on our cheeks.  We fed him, made him do tricks, petted his back and belly, saw his teeth, eyes and ears, and even got to give him a high-five.  Y’all, I’m crying typing this.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime, unbelievable, amazing, surreal experience and we will all forever cherish those moments.  Thank you, Make-A-Wish.  Thank you.  Thank you.



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    Next stop was the photo store.  Grandma Rosie had a hard time remembering where she was staying, and didn’t have all her payment information…but thank goodness the man had mercy on her and let her pay without photo I.D., as Nick was long gone with the kids and the I.D. at this point.  Those photos will be stared at, studied and talked about for years to come.

    We spent the afternoon at Aquaventure, a waterpark at Atlantis.  We wandered…and wandered…and asked for directions 4 times before we found the restaurant to meet Nick and the kids at.  The place was a serious maze.  I didn’t feel so bad once I learned Nick did the same thing to find the place. The boys took off to go on all the big slides and the girls went to the kiddie park.  The boys liked racing down the fast slides and the girls loved the lazy river.  The river wasn’t so lazy, though.  Grandma had a hard time getting on her raft, as usual, but we all managed not to pee in the pool, at least I think.  🙂  There were monster waves and rapids galore, along with lazy, slow flowing spots.  Every time a wave would come our way Halle would say, “Here comes another blast from the past.”  Thanks for that, Papa Jeff.  We shared lots of giggles and kisses while we floated along.

    We met at our meeting spot at 3:00 sharp.  Nick walked up with Kaleb and said, “Have you seen Yo?”  Um…no, why would I have seen Yo when he was with YOU?  Nick proceeded to say, “We lost him.”  Oh dear goodness, this ship is leaving at 4:45 and we lost the child with the language barrier, no money and no phone on him.  As lovingly as I could manage, I indicated Nick better go find him.  Apparently, the not-so-lazy-river made Yo get ahead of the boys.  Nick and Kaleb walked along the river a bit and found him.  Praise the Lord!

    On the bus ride back to the ship, Halle looked at me and said, “Everything I wished for came true.”  That was a moment I hope to never forget.  I love you, Halle Ann!

    We got back to the ship for naps, dinner and another show in the Disney Theater.  Tonight’s show was called ‘Disney Villains’.  One of them came and messed up Malia’s hair, which she found hysterical.  I wanted to ask him if he was going to come back and comb it later tonight…It was another stellar performance, and all the bigs and littles loved it.



    Yohannes made a new friend on the ship and was on the prowl for girls.  The teen area looks so cool, but is only for 14-17 year olds, so he and Nick have spent some time in the sports area and 18+ events when we all go to sleep.

    Tomorrow we visit Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay (pronounced ‘key’).

  • All Aboard

    Preparing for this trip, our kids had no idea what was coming their way.  Yo wanted to stay home, because he didn’t want to miss school and have too much homework…and apparently he didn’t realize the ship wasn’t going to remain stationary.  It is always a hoot in our house…

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    Because of my husband’s sweet and friendly nature, he made friends with the lady behind the counter at Disney, and she pushed our number up to get us on the ship right away.  We were on board at 11:45. The kids met Rapunzel and then headed straight for the pool on the top deck.  The weather was sunny, there was free ice cream, free soda, a huge water slide, and Frozen on the HUGE poolside TV.  Halle said something to me on the airplane and repeated it to me up on the deck while watching Frozen.  A lump formed in my throat, and I choked back tears:  “Mom, I must be pretty special.”  Wow.  I couldn’t help but lift up silent praise to Our Father…for Make-A-Wish, for Halle, for my family, for His provision…Yes, Halle will battle her body her whole life.  Yes, she will need lots of medical care and surgeries.  Yes, it won’t be easy.  BUT, she knows she’s special.  That she is loved SO VERY MUCH by her Heavenly Father, by family, by friends, and I pray that she will share that love with all whom she comes into contact with.  Sometimes I wondered if we should wait awhile to accept an offer from Make-A-Wish.  Maybe when she is older, she will remember more.  But a still, small voice told me that tomorrow is not promised.  Today is a gift that we must cherish.  This INCREDIBLE blessing of a wish means so much to our Halle.  It is, I believe, shaping her ideas about herself.  Who she is…who she can become…how loved she is…that there is so much GOOD in this world, we must believe that and share it…and never, ever give up.

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    Never, ever give up.  That was the message of the live Disney Theater show we went to tonight.  There were performances by several Disney favorites…Tarzan, Simba (man, I could feel the love, the singing and dancing were top-notch), Ariel (complete with bubbles falling from the ceiling, Halle’s favorite), and many others.  It was something we will never forget.  All I can do tonight is lift my hands in praise, giving thanks to Him who is the giver of ALL good gifts!!!


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    PS – Yo has found his life’s calling…he does not believe he will be disembarking with us at the end of this week, as he is seeking employment on the ship as we speak.